Vaping Saves Lives | Citizens Against Government Waste

Vaping Saves Lives

The WasteWatcher

During the annual celebration of World Vape Day, it is vital to take note of the significant contribution to reducing cigarette smoking and saving lives around that world that has been made by Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) products.  The event occurs every year on May 30.  From 2007 to 2015, more than 3 million U.S. adults used THR products to quit smoking cigarettes.  Yet there are many obstacles to more widespread use of this effective tool to reduce smoking.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has long supported the use of less dangerous products to reduce cigarette use.  CAGW’s November 2021 issue brief, “Tobacco Harm Reduction Products Should Be Widely Adopted,” examined the impact of vaping products worldwide.  The report noted that Sweden has smoking rates of 5 percent compared to France at 33 percent, with Britain and Denmark at 16 percent.  This low rate can be attributed in large part to strong tobacco harm reduction policies. 

Japan has also embraced vaping products over traditional cigarettes, leading to significant declines in smoking.  In 2016, Japan had 43.6 billion in domestic cigarette sales, which dropped by 43 percent to 25 billion by 2021.  The widespread use in Japan of heated tobacco products and heated sticks to produce vapor, not smoke, increased over those five years. 

Vaping is a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.  According to the American Lung Association, a conventional cigarette contains more than 6,000 ingredients and, when burned, releases more than 7,000 chemicals, including arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, and tar.  Traditional cigarette use is associated with cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.  E-cigarettes and vaping products release nicotine without these harmful effects.  The World Health Organization has estimated that tobacco use is responsible for 16 percent of all deaths in adults over 30 in Europe.  Vaping can reduce the number of deaths, as it has proven to be 95 percent less harmful than traditional smoking. 

However, vaping has grown to be a controversial topic in the media and mistruths regarding youth vaping have spiraled into fearmongering campaigns aimed at stopping vaping for both youths and adults.  Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a significant reduction in the number of young smokers with a decline of 1.73 million, or 28 percent, fewer youth tobacco users in 2020 (4.47 million) than in 2019 (6.20 million). 

Many countries, states, and local governments, including in the U.S., are still enacting fear-based rather than fact-based heavy-handed restrictions and taxes on THR products.  Such efforts to legislate morality through the government are ineffective and have enable a thriving and dangerous black market.  New York, for example, has consistently taken the wrong approach on tobacco.  CAGW’s March 27, 2023, blog examined legislation supported by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), S. 4007 and A3007, which would ban all flavored tobacco products in New York and end the sale of menthol cigarettes, flavored cigarettes, flavored cigars, flavored cigarillos, and smokeless tobacco.

However, instead of forcing those who use these products to quit, government actions like these rarely work and instead increase prices and make it harder to use THR products.  While U.S. policies on THR products have been negative, other countries have exemplified more positive and forward-thinking approaches that have led to better health outcomes. 

If vaping products are a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes and result in more adult smokers kicking the habit, there should be increased support for policies to help reduce the number of smokers.  THR products like vaping have resulted in fewer deaths and helped adults quit smoking.  World Vape Day should be a time for government officials around the world to pledge to adopt policies that will increase the use of THR products and save lives by helping smokers to quit, rather than trying to raise taxes and increase government regulations, which would not only fail to reduce smoking but also endanger more lives.